Australian Ashley Kent Johnston, 28, has died fighting ISIS alongside Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
Fairfax Media reported Johnston was killed when ISIS militants attacked the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) near Tal Hamis in Hasakeh province in northern Syria.
The YPG paid tribute to the deceased Australian in a Facebook post, which claims he is “the first Western fighter to be martyred fighting the evil of ISIS”.
According to the post, the YPG squad Johnston was fighting with, The Lions Of Rojava, were “massively outnumbered and outgunned” when their truck broke down in “a small village near Shingal”.
“Throughout his time in Kurdistan he had a positive impact on my peoples lives though his humility and kindness to everyone he met,” the tribute said.
In a follow-up post YPG spokesman Rêdur Xelil, and commander Nesrin Abdullah, said Johnston was “a martyr of the Kurdish people and humanity.”
“We offer condolence to his family and the Australian people over the death of Johnston who joined the fight from Australia and bravely fought against the gangs in Rojava. He is a great value for us,” Nesrin said.
The announcement of the Australian’s death was originally reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group.
A Defence spokesperson said the Queensland-born man was formerly enrolled in Australia’s Army Reserves.
Australian Kurdish Association president Gulfer Olan said Johnston “was a hero”.
“He went all the way from here to fight for humanity. We will have him in our hearts forever,” she said.
Under Australian law, it is illegal for Australians to go and fight for either side in the conflict in Syria.
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